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Mel Kiper sees an NFL draft stocked with positions the Cardinals need

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals are in need of a wide receiver who can be a foundational piece of their offense for the foreseeable future, and according to ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr., receivers are plentiful this year.
Kiper projects 37 pass-catches -- slot receivers, wide outs and tight ends -- who could be drafted in the first five rounds of this year's NFL draft, including 14 wide receivers with first- and second-round grades.
The Cardinals, of course, have a WR1 in DeAndre Hopkins, but need a WR2. And even though they signed veteran A.J. Green this offseason, they only gave him a one-year contract. At 32, the end of Green's career is closer than the beginning. That, coupled with the uncertainty of Larry Fitzgerald's future, puts receiver near the top of the Cardinals' draft priorities this year.

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Arizona Cardinals' NFL free-agent signings 2021: J.J. Watt a splashy start

What it means: The Cardinals needed a WR2 as bad as any position heading into free agency and the seem to have found that with Green, who will be 33 when the season starts. He has the potential to be a dynamic complement to DeAndre Hopkins, giving the Cardinals a solid one-two punch at receiver. With as much attention as Hopkins gets, Green will face plenty of one-on-ones, giving quarterback Kyler Murray the types of options he's been missing in Arizona. And if Green plays up to his potential, then Arizona could have as formidable of a receiving duo as there is in the NFL.

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J.J. Watt's covert T-shirt plan to keep his free-agent destination secret

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Before announcing his signing with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, pass-rusher J.J. Watt wanted to keep his free-agency recruitment a secret. For most of the process, he was successful, but he ran into one last snag that could have spoiled his covert operation.
After narrowing his list of finalists to "four or five" teams, Watt wanted to order shirts with each team's logo emblazoned on one of them so that when the time came, he could throw one on, hop under a squat bar and take the photo that would help him break the news himself. "Take control of your own narrative" is how Watt put it. But he was worried that someone in an Amazon fulfillment center might see his name when he ordered the shirts and would blow the whole thing up.

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Cardinals continued Kliff Kingsbury's penalty-filled history in 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's not often that two penalties from a game are emblematic of an entire season, but that was the case when Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was flagged twice in a matter of minutes during the third quarter of the team's season finale.
The first flag thrown against him was for an offensive pass interference, a 10-yard penalty. Hopkins didn't like the call and started barking at the official, eventually giving him the middle finger in the process. That led to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Arizona was down 15-7 at the time and the play that ignited Hopkins' two penalties began at the 50. By time the infractions were settled, Arizona was backed up to its 25-yard-line and faced a first-and-35. The Cardinals punted four plays later.

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Can Kenyan Drake get his big payday after proving himself as a feature back?

Drake was 13th in the NFL with 955 rushing yards, seventh with 239 carries and 10th with 10 rushing touchdowns -- one less than his quarterback, Kyler Murray. He also eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the third straight year thanks to 137 receiving yards on 25 catches, his lowest numbers in each category since 2016.
But Drake feels like his résumé is proof he can be a featured back for any team.
"At the end of the day, when you look at the numbers, the last two years I've had 1,000 total yards, when it comes to rushing and receiving, people are always gonna doubt what they don't see or what you don't prove," Drake said.

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Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick quiets critics with career year

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick did one of those "How it started ... how it's going" memes to describe his 2020 season, it'd go something like this: Frame 1 -- Reddick sitting on a bench, unsure of how much playing time he'd get with a list of goals in a thought bubble. Frame 2 -- Reddick celebrating around all of his doubters.
It was that kind of year for the former first-round pick.
Reddick's 12.5 sacks were fourth-best in the NFL in 2020, and because of his breakout season, he's put himself in a position to cash in on his productivity -- either with the Cardinals or somewhere else.

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Kliff Kingsbury gave Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Browns' Baker Mayfield a chance

It may be an AFC divisional game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns to most, but Sunday's game (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS) is unofficially the Kliff Kingsbury Bowl.
Kingsbury, now head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, coached both starting quarterbacks -- Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Cleveland's Baker Mayfield -- in consecutive seasons as head coach at Texas Tech.
When the two former Red Raiders square off for a chance to play in the AFC Championship Game, Kingsbury will sit back and relish the moment.
"It's kind of like being a big brother, I guess," Kingsbury said. "I just sit back as a fan now and try to enjoy the success those guys are having. Just to be around those guys, have a small part in anything that they've been able to become as a quarterback, I take a lot of pride in that and those guys know that."

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Shorthanded Rams, banged-up Cardinals meet with playoffs on the line

Rams quarterback John Wolford will make his NFL debut, while Kyler Murray is hobbled entering this win-or-go-home situation for the Cardinals.

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Cardinals to blame as playoffs slip away with loss to 49ers

So much for the Arizona Cardinals controlling their own destiny.
All they had to do was beat the San Francisco 49ers -- the injury-ravaged, five-win 49ers -- and the Cardinals would have been a game away from going to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. And if they had won and the Chicago Bears lost Sunday, Arizona would’ve clinched this weekend.
But that idea floated out of the roof at State Farm Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the Cardinals lost 20-12 in what was one of the franchise’s most important games in recent memory and, simultaneously, one of its most embarrassing this season.

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